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Want to Give a Great Presentation? Take the Stress Out of Presenting and Hit it Out of the Park

Being an exceptional presenter – and the ability to give a great presentation – can be a deal maker in business.

No matter if we are presenting to one person or thousands of people, a high quality presentation can dramatically increase our results.  Whether it be driving sales, marketing a product, prospecting, branding, or whatever is relevant to your line of work.

Regardless of our end goal of the presentation, the bottom line is that people are buying the presenter as much as they are buying the concept being presented.

That’s why learning to give a great presentation is so important.

Grasping the attention of the audience and engaging them can be elusive, but this is something that the best presenters are consistently able to do.

According to NBC Health, as much as 75 percent of people have anxiety when it comes to public speaking. Throw in the stress of having to prepare a presentation in which your company’s sales numbers hang in the balance, for example, and you’ve got a real pressure cooker.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however,and becoming a masterful presenter is within reach. It’s not just about practicing for hours on end. Although that may help, there are many factors and elements that go into making a presentation – not just the everyday, bare minimum, yawning presentation, but imagine yourself with the audience hanging on your every word as you guide them through a dynamic, engaging, well-structured presentation. How would that feel?

A 2014 Prezi survey about employees and their attitude towards presentations in the workplace found that 20% of respondents said they would do almost anything to get out of giving a presentation, including faking an illness or asking a co-worker to handle the presentation for them, even though they would be losing respect in the workplace. However, 70% of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to success in business.

If the ability to make quality presentations is fundamental to success, why, then, are so many willing to overlook the importance of becoming a good presenter? The answer is fear. The fear of public speaking is real, and moreover, so is the fear of presenting at your workplace, at a conference, to investors, and

so on. If one cannot convincingly and confidently present ideas and products, then failure is likely. That could be in the form of lost sales, inability to secure funding, lack of leadership, and ultimately, a career that is mired in the mud.

While some people are born with certain abilities to connect with people and articulate valid points, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of people are not. Even the greatest speakers and presenters have had to work to get to where they are. Very few, if any, can hit a homerun with their very first presentation. Like anything, presenting is a skill that does take some practice, but between making a commitment to improving presentation skills and following a solid formula to creating successful presentations, anyone can improve.

Take a second to think of all of the additional opportunities that may arise simply by becoming a more proficient presenter. Promotions, commissions, funding, sales, you name it. If is your objective to take your career to the next level, then get started with developing presentation skills – skills that are widely agreed to have such a positive impact on your business or career.

People will tell you that it is simply a matter of gaining confidence or picturing the audience naked. The truth is that there are people out there who do a lot of speaking, and they are not engaging their audience and moving them to act. They are, instead, just talking at them.

Have you ever had the head nods during a presentation even though you had a good night’s sleep the night before? Have you ever found yourself daydreaming during a meeting when you were supposed to be paying attention to important information? Of course, we all have. Flat, boring presentations can have a similar effect of a bottle of Nyquil.

Although practice makes perfect, practicing the wrong thing only serves to make a perfectly bad presentation. So where do we start?

First and foremost, we must be conscious about language. We must pay attention to, and practice, both our spoken language and our body language. Someone who stands tall, speaks clearly and positively, and engages with the audience is more likely to earn the respect of the listeners .

Body language expert Amy Cuddy gave a Ted Talk in 2012. The focus was obviously on… body language, and she explained that we should all spend a couple of minutes “power posing” before we go on stage. According to Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, power posing is adopting the stances associated with confidence, power and achievement — chest lifted, head held high, arms either up or propped on the hips.

Cuddy’s research on power posing revealed that people who adopted the practice of high-power posing had, on average, an 8% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in cortisol, whereas the low-power posing group had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. Effectively, the high-power posing group had more confidence and less stress than their counterparts.

Just as important as how we present ourselves in relation to our body language, the verbal language we use and how we use it can have a dramatic impact on our overall success. Using positive language can not only create an instant connection between people, it can also be a useful vessel to take people where we want them to go.

Human empowerment coaches, like Tony Robbins, are masters of using words to help develop self-confidence. This practice is called neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP. In short, it is the use of powerful and positive words to create belief in oneself, to alter perceptions, even to walk on fire (as he does in many of his courses). The more positive affirmation we give ourselves, the more belief we develop.

Aside from using positive language to present ourselves better, we can also use certain words to guide an audience during a presentation. Using active phrases like “imagine” and “picture this” can allow a presenter to get the audience to a more subconscious state, where our minds are allowed to dream, invoking powerful emotion.

Further, the use of the words to tell a story are imperative to develop. In fact, according to NY Times Best-selling Authors Chip and Dan Heath, 63% of people remember stories following a presentation, whereas only 5% of people remember statistics. Painting vivid pictures with words and taking the audience on a journey can break the mundane nature of the average presentation. And those who are the best can allow people to see the world (or the issue) differently by the end of their talk.

Begin to adopt the practices of positive language immediately. It is a process and won’t happen overnight, but as we have seen, the results can be transformational.

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 Susan Sly is a best selling author, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.



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